Nationwide, OSU Team Up

Ohio State University officials and the Columbus Blue Jackets NHL team are in the final stages of forging a partnership deal for the city’s Nationwide Arena that will save the hockey team about $1 million a year.

Ohio State University Associate VP Xen Riggs told Pollstar the idea first came about when the Blue Jackets began looking for ways to reduce the team’s annual $12 million operating deficit. The privately owned, 20,000-capacity Nationwide Arena is run by SMG but the company’s contract expires June 30.

“The Blue Jackets are looking for a long-term solution [so] they commissioned a few experts to put their heads together on a report … that talked about the problems and some potential things to look at,” Riggs said. “One of those things was … a joint-management option and what it could mean to the city and the building.

“This has nothing to do with anything [SMG] did or didn’t do. They did a fabulous job and served the customer really well. This is just a market condition.”

While Nationwide Arena and the team will benefit from reduced operating costs, a bonus for the 20,000-capacity Schottenstein Center will be in combined marketing and promotion.

“Now we can spend time and resources on marketing and figuring out ways to sell tickets and enhance the fan experience,” Riggs told Pollstar. “We’re already looking beyond the two arenas, saying ‘Who else is in the market doing concerts and how can we all work together to make this a music destination like Austin or Seattle?’”

“Our goal is to [make] the pie bigger for everybody, just split it up differently.”

Riggs referred to the Columbus Association for the Performing Arts, Promo West Productions, which owns and operates Newport Music Hall and Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, and the 30,000-capacity Crew Stadium, all of which book concerts.

Details of the joint-management agreement are expected to be wrapped up in the next few weeks.